Human Rights Activists Hail Dissident Bahraini Soccer Star's Release From Thai Jail

Wanderers Thai Airways

Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi

The director general of the attorney general office's worldwide affairs department said prosecutors on Monday submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station.

Public prosecutor Settha Thianpilakul from the foreign affairs bureau of the Office of the Attorney-General arrived at the court on Ratchadaphisek Road on Monday afternoon to withdraw prosecutors' earlier request for the extradition of the 25-year-old Bahraini footballer.

Al-Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia.Bahrain had issued a request for his arrest on the grounds of an act of vandalism al-Araibi maintains he did not commit, as he was playing a soccer game at the time of the alleged incident.

Detained Nov. 27 at the start of what was meant to be a honeymoon in Thailand, the former Bahrain national team player is wanted back in the kingdom for an arson attack on a police station in 2012 for which he was sentenced in absentia.

Australia's prime minister has thanked Thailand for its decision to no longer seek the extradition to Bahrain of a refugee soccer player who lives in Melbourne.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster has been leading a tireless campaign to free the footballer but the Thai authorities have steadfastly refused to bend the law, despite Thailand and Australia admitting the Interpol notice for his arrest had been issued in error.

Bahrain has denied allegations of torture and said Mr Araibi is a fugitive who should be returned.

"Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem, " he wrote Monday in comments on Twitter. I can't list them, but will thank each of them in time.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Bahrain to withdraw its request. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

Al-Araibi was jailed and beaten in Bahrain during a crackdown on pro-democracy athletes.

He appeared in court last week, led into the courthouse in shackles, and was remanded in custody for another 10 weeks until April 22.

Human rights activists in Bahrain have also welcomed the news.

Authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, said the country reaffirmed its right to pursue legal action against him, however.

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